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A Special Report of the Foundation for Middle East Peace
Summer 1997 (Fri, 25 Jul 1997 )

email subscribers please note. The maps that accompany this special report will soon be available on our web site:


Jerusalem is a city of many, often competing, definitions. It is a spiritual center for Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the "reunified" capital of the State of Israel, and the focus of Palestinian aspirations for political independence.

In the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the Israeli portion of Jerusalem, West Jerusalem, was declared the national capital. The Arab sector of the city, East Jerusalem, which included the Old City and religious shrines, was annexed by Jordan along with the entire area west of the Jordan River--the West Bank--which remained under Arab control after the war. Neither Israel's declaration of West Jerusalem as its capital, nor a similar Jordanian declaration on East Jerusalem in 1960, were recognized by the international community, whose views continued to be expressed by the UN General Assembly's Partition Resolution (181) of November 1947 calling for Jerusalem's internationalization.

Israel's June 1967 conquest of the West Bank and the annexation of East Jerusalem created the opportunity to "reunify" East and West Jerusalem under exclusive Israeli control, thus compromising the Palestinians' ability to carve out a territorially contiguous state with Jerusalem as its capital.

The Foundation for Middle East Peace presents in the following pages a series of maps and analysis of Israel's vision for the critical center of the West Bank--from Ramallah in the north to Bethlehem in the south and reaching eastward to the hills overlooking Jericho. These presentations, created by noted Dutch geographer Jan de Jong, graphically illustrate Israel's view that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians today is less about sovereignty than about control of the land. Israel's vision of the future of Jerusalem and its environs may have room for a measure of Palestinian sovereignty, but the implementation of the plans outlined on these pages will empty this sovereignty of much practical meaning.

-- Geoffrey Aronson


This special report has been made possible through a generous grant from the Hani Salaam Foundation.



Israel's "Greater Jerusalem" Engulfs the West Bank's Core

By Jan de Jong


In 1995 an Israeli inter-ministerial committee finalized a new large-scale development plan for a region covering 40 percent of the West Bank and an equal percentage of its Palestinian residents.

The "Metropolitan Jerusalem Plan" significantly enlarges the scale of previous Israeli planning efforts for the Jerusalem region. Promulgated by the government of Yitzhak Rabin two years after the signing of the Declaration of Principles with the PLO established a framework for resolving competing claims over the occupied territories, the plan contemplates little territorial compromise with the Palestinians across a large swath of the West Bank. If implemented, this plan will irrevocably compromise the last remaining prospects for the socio-economic rehabilitation of the Palestinian territories in the crucial core area of Jerusalem and preclude a meaningful degree of Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem and its environs.

Although not yet formally endorsed, the plan formulated guidelines that are followed in a series of local and regional land-use schemes for the area. As an instructive guide to Israeli intentions, the plan offers Israel's comprehensive developmental vision of Jerusalem and its hinterland, enabling the alignment and adjustment of all separately designed proposals for housing, industries, roads, and tourist and recreational facilities.

The implementation of the Israeli plan will drastically alter the landscape and livelihoods of the West Bank's core area and its Palestinian and Israeli inhabitants. The scale of settlement building and road construction achieved during the past three decades within the unilaterally extended city limits of Jerusalem--most notably the settlement of more than 160,000 Israelis in annexed parts of the city--may be repeated in half that time and on a scale twice as large in terms of settler population and three times as large in terms of area.

As the Metropolitan and Greater Jerusalem map on page 3SR illustrates, the central planning area has been designated by Israel as "Metropolitan Jerusalem," where the Israeli and Palestinian populations are in rough parity. Metropolitan Jerusalem measures 950 sq km, only 30 percent of which is within pre-1967 Israel. A sense of the scale of Israel's planning effort can be noted by the inclusion of the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem in the Israeli planning area.

The plan's target area is "Greater Jerusalem"--the inner metropolitan core around Jerusalem beyond the Green Line. Greater Jerusalem comprises an area of 440 sq km, of which less than a quarter is within pre-1967 Israel. This area is characterized by a majority Palestinian population in its West Bank and East Jerusalem dimensions, where 300,000 Palestinians and 200,000 Israelis reside, but it is increasingly dominated territorially by rapidly growing Israeli settlements. Roughly one-quarter of the Israelis live in 20 settlements beyond the municipal borders of Jerusalem.

The urban sprawl evident in the new Israeli neighborhoods and settlements built within the municipal boundary of East Jerusalem since 1967 provides a yardstick to measure Israel's intention to maintain its exclusive sovereign hold over Jerusalem.

The projections of the metropolitan plan indicate a similar determination, but this time focused far beyond the city itself to the area around Jerusalem, strategically positioned between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

Jerusalem Before and After 1967

The map of Jerusalem before and after 1967 (above right) shows the major rupture in the city's metropolitan status occasioned by Israeli decisions in the wake of the June 1967 war. Depicted in the map are both the Arab city scheme before 1967 and the city borders fixed by Israel.

The Kendall Town Scheme, commissioned by Jordan in 1966, envisioned the urgently needed consolidation of an Arab city in and around Jerusalem proper by linking all scattered Palestinian residential areas within one integrated planning area. Had it been implemented, the scheme--named for Henry Kendall, a city planner who had been working in Palestine since the time of the British Mandate--would have created space for industrial and commercial areas and thousands of new dwellings. It also would have provided for the crucial conditions necessary to reinvigorate not only East Jerusalem, but also the surrounding rural Palestinian countryside.

The map also illustrates the direction taken by Israeli development in the city after 1967. Instead of consolidating East Jerusalem as one contiguous city and upgrading its indigenous housing and socio-economical capacity as projected in the Kendall Town Scheme, Israel's extension and annexation of East Jerusalem excluded half of East Jerusalem's suburbs from Jerusalem and its expropriation of land deprived Jerusalem's Palestinian citizens of approximately 30 sq km of territory, capable of supporting at least 30,000 new dwellings, as well as vital commercial and industrial areas.

The 30,000 dwellings envisioned by the Kendall Scheme have been built--for Israelis--in the years since 1967, along with another 20,000 in adjacent areas zoned on the Kendall plan for purposes such as agriculture or public institutions. In addition, 2.5 sq km of industrial space in five separate areas in Arab Jerusalem was similarly removed from Palestinian development. Four of these areas are today the sites of the Israeli settlements of Gilo-East, Atarot-South, Pisgat Ze'ev-Central, and Rekhes Shuafat-South.

Metropolitan Jerusalem

The map of Metropolitan and Greater Jerusalem illustrates the dramatic increase of Israeli settlement construction projected by the latest metropolitan plan. The city-settlements established in East Jerusalem after 1967 serve as a springboard for large-scale expansion of similar Israeli suburbs in a second ring around all of East Jerusalem. These settlements are depicted on the map according to the metropolitan plan's recommendations in combination with the settlement's proposed local plan schemes.

Within the confines of Greater Jerusalem, the neighborhood schemes for the Palestinian localities are illustrated according to their future dwelling capacity. The illustration enables an illuminating comparison with proposed Israeli settlement expansion in Greater Jerusalem.

The distinction between planned Israeli settlement expansion and the projected living space for Palestinian locales (grey within the municipal city limits; grey and adjoining white in Greater and Metropolitan Jerusalem) is a stark feature of the metropolitan map.

The Demographic Battle

Demographic assessments for this contested area have always been a highly controversial subject, not least because of unreliable statistical records, especially for the Palestinian sector. The demographic proportions shown on the map on page 2SR, although based on careful inspection and weighing of available records, must be considered as an approximation, while in terms of pattern and proportion they are sound.

The area's population can be divided into three sections. The first concerns the population of municipal East Jerusalem within the borders established by Israel in 1967. The area of East Jerusalem contains a slight Israeli majority. When West Jerusalem is factored in, the Israeli majority increases to approximately two-thirds of the total.

The current demographic composition of the West Bank areas of Greater Jerusalem (comprising three-quarters of all of Greater Jerusalem) reveals a solid Palestinian population majority. This majority becomes even more prominent in the outlying metropolitan sector where populous Israeli settlements are relatively scarce.

Israeli planners soberly recognize that the high Palestinian birthrate will consolidate and even increase its distinct majority position in the metropolitan region of Jerusalem. This demographic reality will also be the case in most of Greater Jerusalem, if it is not countered by the large-scale Israeli settlement expansion envisioned in the Metropolitan Jerusalem Plan. The expansion effort is projected at key locations of the metropolitan plan--Giv'at Ze'ev in the northwest, Ma'ale Adumim in the east and Betar and Efrata in the southwest. These settlements have enjoyed extraordinary growth rates, achieved mainly through immigration. Immigration has been facilitated by the highly improved accessibility of the outlying settlements made possible by construction of so-called bypass roads around Palestinian locales.

Settler Numbers Increase

During the next 15 years, the light-blue colored expansion areas in the outer ring of settlements of Greater Jerusalem depicted on the map on page 3SR can accommodate more than 200,000 new settlers, in addition to the 50,000 currently residing there. During this period, completion of the Israeli suburban sections within Jerusalem itself (Har Homa and other locations) is expected to increase the number of East Jerusalem's 170,000 Israeli citizens to at least one-quarter million, continuing the crucial role of settlement in East Jerusalem as a means of offsetting the demographic implications of continuing Palestinian population growth. The increase in Israel's settler population will bring the total number of Israeli settlers in and around Arab East Jerusalem by the year 2015 to half a million. The Palestinian population is expected to double over the same period to one-half million within Greater Jerusalem and to one million in the metropolitan region.

When the 300,000 Israelis living in West Jerusalem are factored into this equation, a population balance of at least two-thirds Israeli Jews and one-third Palestinian Arabs for the city proper is expected to be maintained. Such a ratio has long been a cornerstone of Israel's Jerusalem policy. It now appears to be the aim of the metropolitan plan section of Greater Jerusalem as well. The creation of a demographic revolution in the area around Jerusalem aiming at an Israeli majority, however, can only succeed by the extensive settlement expansion projected on the map and by tying Greater Jerusalem's outer settlement ring--Ma'ale Adumim, Giv'at Ze'ev, and Betar--to the city proper through the formation of a "Metropolitan Council of Greater Jerusalem." By truncating the emerging Palestinian metropolis as envisioned by Jordanian planners before 1967, by precluding Jerusalem's prospective consolidation as one contiguous city, and by twisting its orientation away from the Arab hinterland toward that of Israel, a lasting Israeli domination of the rearranged metropolis appears ensured.



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